Why not Juffa?

By PNG Echo

The warlord's son - with his weapon of choice
The warlord’s son – with his weapon of choice

Don Polye, the Engan warlord, whose election result has been set aside on more than one occasion for suspected and proven tampering (including the most recent one), who is implicated in many corruption scandals including (but not only) the unresolved Paraka case, who has been rejected and sidelined by every government he’s served under, not least of all for incompetence, has been named as the alternative Prime Minister.

Is this the best the Opposition can do?

I’ve maintained (and am unlikely to resile from the position) that the Opposition is not a fit outfit to run a country.   They are a motley crew of the disaffected, disgruntled and rejected – all with knives sharpened to do each other in at the earliest opportunity.

I think they’ve already done Ben Micah in.

According to a government press release, Micah, when denied what Minister Marape has labelled “unreasonable demands” to whit: to be given the Deputy Prime Minister’s Portfolio (the good Minister considering Micah ” …does not have the stature, experience and respect required to be Deputy Prime Minister.”) he gathered up all his toys, like a spoilt child, and left – disgruntled, disaffected and rejected.

Hallo Byron. Off to Alotau? Does ben know?
Hallo Byron. Off to Alotau?

Only he left a few behind, like the Chans – the most useful toys in his stash.

How would he perform as DPM when he can’t even maintain the following of a small political party? I do, though, wonder how Micah found himself in oppositional no man’s land – no nomination as alternative Prime Minister – not even Deputy (they’ve got Basil, who’s made that role his own.)

The only reasonable explanation is that he did more than just sulked away – likely left with a whip behind him.  Ah, you never know how humble you can be – until being humble is all the choice you have.
(Apologies to the unknown sage whose words of wisdom I’ve bastardized)

Mind you, the Opposition are so few that, at this stage, promising Ministerial portfolios would not be a problem.

However, once they’re all gone – what do they have left that’s in the least attractive for the other MPs and for the country? Not a lot.

Yet we are being regaled, in the social media, with all the likely defections – to the Opposition – when in fact the faction that is the most wobbly is the Opposition.

ben-micah (1)Micah, for instance, he’s got nothing for his defection (and he’s not known for doing things out of the goodness of his heart) and what’s more they quite likely tricked him out of the leadership or deputy role and he wouldn’t be pleased about that. I’d say Micah is for sale to the highest bidder – except no one seems to be bidding.

20130910_Tue_HeadlinesAnd then, there’s Namah… who has been ‘making eyes’ at O’Neill for some time now. But the famous cuckold has been, so far, unsuccessful. However, O’Neill would only have to wink at him and he’d come running. He’s no stable member of this wraggle-taggle mob – a bit of a floozy really.

…and Kua – he’s been a bully in the past – See: http://www.pngecho.com/2016/05/05/so-you-want-kerenga-kua-as-the-next-pm-oh-please/ – and it seems he’s still at it.

5160696-3x2-940x627Wasn’t it humiliating to see Speaker, Theo Zurenuoc go to water when Kua reminded him, ominously, that he could be charged with contempt of court – a veiled threat, I thought. You could have carried the Speaker around in a bucket. I’m wondering what motivates this feisty little gnome-like creature other than enriching the Somares.

Then, lurking in the background, not really with them, not really against them, is the Governor of Oro, Gary Juffa.

Here’s your solution.

 I’m now going to suspend all disbelief in order to give you all what you say you want: that is the Opposition, the social media and the silent majority.

It is the Opposition’s position that this VONC was necessary because Peter O’Neill is ruining the country and needs to be removed to save PNG.   Their motivation is to save PNG from corruption and bad fiscal management.

Pay attention to this, because it’s vital.

How can that be the case when they’ve nominated someone like Don Polye to be alternative Prime Minister – just more of the same things they accuse O’Neill of and worse?

I have also demonstrated, here and at other times, that the main contenders for alternative Prime Minister in the Opposition are all tainted by the broad brush of corruption.

The Opposition would tell you that they were acting on behalf of the ‘silent majority’; that they’ve heard their plaintive cries (although I don’t know how when they’re silent) and are responding – a voice for the voiceless.

Equally, there is a certain demographic that uses the social media who claim to also be speaking for the ‘silent majority’. (The students’ did too – but let’s leave them out – this social grouping seems to be becoming over-represented).

We can therefore conclude that the Opposition and the social media, anti-government forces are speaking for this same voiceless demographic.

With me? Excellent.

The deputy (of most things)
The deputy (of most things)

If we scrutinize the rhetoric of this social media grouping and take heed of the many surveys they have carried out, the consensus is that this silent majority, want Gary Juffa as alternative Prime Minister. Unequivocally! (Oh and Basil as the Deputy – who else?)

Juffa, though, hasn’t got the numbers and the Governor understands this only too well – yes, but only because these supposed representatives of the ‘silent majority’ have given their vote to Polye when their supporters want Juffa.

Oh come on Don, why don’t you listen to the plaintive cries of your constituents? It’s easy stuff, step down, instruct the Opposition (which you claim to lead) to back Juffa.

This will reveal, if your aim is really as stated or whether this VONC is a cynical exercise to raid the state’s coffers. As for the social media and the anti-government forces, I’ve given you a tangible way to get what you want – go lobby – but be prepared to run when the sheepskins are shrugged off to reveal the hungry wolves.

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So you want Kerenga Kua as the next PM- Oh Please!

By PNG Echo

Kerenga Kua
Kerenga Kua

Social media has started throwing around Kerenga Kua’s name as a possible next Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. It’s another ill-considered notion from the Keyboards of Papua New Guinea’s self-professed ‘elites’ (sic).

I mean, why would you want him? He’s a cheat, a hypocrite and a thug.

Having said that, I can see that it at least may be possible – unlike the other candidates that social media wastes our time with like Gary Juffa and Sam Basil who have not got a snowball’s hope in hell.

Even if they win the hearts of their people, they then have the problem of winning over their fellow Members – and neither have the numbers – nor do they have the wherewithal and allegiances to garner them.  Juffa is an intelligent man (not so much Basil) and he knows this only too well.

But back to Kerenga Kua, the bully boy from Sinasina/Yongomugl

Sir Michael Somare
Sir Michael Somare

Firstly, having spent many years as Sir Michael Somare’s personal lawyer, Kua, no doubt, knows where all the bodies are buried, what’s more, as his legal representative he likely would have helped Sir Michael dig the graves.

If Sir Michael knows a certain something about corruption you have to wonder who was the master and who was the apprentice in this relationship.

And he’s a lawyer too.

The most abiding criticism the current Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill faces is that he should stop using legal avenues to avoid arrest and submit to the court processes. Hell, our legal friend Kua has even made a big splash and a big man of himself suggesting the same.

Kua clearly has not heard the adage about people in glass houses not throwing stones.

I don’t know how he could have made such a statement with a straight face – not in view of what happened when an arrest warrant was extant for him in 2010.
Take it away, Sunday Chronicle.

[With]Mr Yama [complainant]…alleging conspiracy to pervert the court of justice [against Kua and others ] …police were working to interview PNG Law Society President, Kerenga Kua…but it was alleged that the duo [Kua and a Mr Mua] fled to Chimbu [to avoid arrest]…Mr Kua returned to Port Moresby after their representative, Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers, successfully took out a National Court orders which granted leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision of Waigani District Court magistrate …to issue warrants of arrests.

The arrest warrants were stayed.   How familiar does that sound? And how hypocritical does Kua sound, knowing this? Besides, never has Peter O’Neill fled to Chimbu or anywhere else – so clearly Kua could elevate this avoidance to a level otherwise unimagined.

Commissions, Commissions, Commissions

Goiye Gileng - keeping it all in the family
Goiye Gileng – keeping it all in the family

And a healthy imagination is what you’d need to believe the things that came out of the Commission of Inquiry into the briefing out and payment of private law firms.

Firstly in Paraka-esque fashion Kua tried to stop the commission – he failed.

The Commission questioned Kua and his two partners in PKA Lawyers one of whom, Goiye Gileng is Kua’s brother. And didn’t the lawyer for the Commission have a field day?

When Kisakiu Posman, Kua’s other erstwhile partner in the law firm PKA Lawyers, was asked what constituted an ‘item’ in a bill for X numbers of items, he answered that they were six minute blocks but then stumbled saying – no probably a unit was an hour.

Firstly, everyone knows that lawyers bill in minutes not hours. However, Posman must have been busy doing the sums in his head and was way ahead of counsel who pointed out that were they 6-minute units then the charge out rate would be K15,000 per hour. Whoa! However, counsel had done his homework and pointed out that in the other scenario (1 unit= an hour) then Mr Kua must have worked for 20 hours that day.

While Posman said that this would be right, at least Kua, when cross examined, said he rarely worked more than 11 hours in a day. Yet, there it was  – the bill.

And then there are the ‘jobs for the boys’ or nepotism.

During the short time that Kua was Attorney General, he briefed out two of the most lucrative matters to his old firm, PKA Lawyers.

Counsel for the Commission pointed out that according to company records, Kerenga Kua was still involved in the firm when this happened. Posman explained it as being an ‘oversight’ and when Kua was questioned he said that, as Attorney General, he gave the contract to the most competent firm – yes, a firm so competent that they forget to alter the company records in a situation as sensitive as this – you’d want them in your corner if your life was on the line, wouldn’t you?

Yet, they billed the government millions of dollars (either at K15,000 an hour, or while working 20 hour days) for working on the Kumul Holdings case and, you guessed it, PNGSDP case in Singapore.

And that’s not all, there was much more – but read it yourselves.  The 18 and 25th November is of particular interest. Here is the link.

And last, but not least, is the Member’s thuggery.

In a violent society, where the most vulnerable, most often women and children get gratuitously beaten, maimed and killed, to have a leader that embodies the traits of the perpetrator is simply unconscionable.

Here is a report of the Incident from The National Jan 6, 2014

…In his witness statement, which was supported by security guard Samson Kokong, Hunter [electrical manager with Aisi-Bishman Contractors]said the incident occurred at 7pm at a property owned by Kua in Section 60, Lot 20 on Gabaka Street, Gordon…

Hunter said when he arrived  [at the premises]with two of his workers, he saw Kua with 12 security guards waiting inside.

“I was trying to greet him when he started shouting that I had wrecked his property and he punched me in the face,” Hunter said in his statement to police.

“I attempted to reason with him and explain my side of the issue while he continued to punch me in between yelling accusations that I was a con man and had cheated him.”…

Hunter said Kua and one of his security guards then proceeded to attack him but he managed to run out of the gate and drive off to the Boroko police station to report the matter.

Ah yes, what a Prince! Just what Papua New Guinea needs – He’s everything that’s been criticised about the current Prime Minister and so much more – he’s potentially another Paraka and he’s also a bovver boy.

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Look who’s talking – Foreign media.

By PNG Echo.

The failed state of PNG

proclaimed the headline of Australian ’boutique’ publication The Saturday Paper, (its author, Mike Seccombe)

This is opinion and, in my opinion, it is tainted opinion.

It’s a melange of the same old sources, saying the same old thing, displaying a nostalgic longing for a time passed when Papua New Guinea was ‘get rich and get out’ country unimpeded by governments who were far more malleable than this one.

Take the headline – incorrect:  the very first indication of a failed state is when the government loses control of its disciplinary forces. That hasn’t happened – nor will it. O’Neill is still the Supreme Commander of the PNG armed forces and O’Neill appointee, Chief of Police, Gary Baki, is doing a sterling job of maintaining discipline even with a few court-backed rogue police as thorns in his side.

Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro
Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro

Ironically, the article was brought to my attention on the Facebook page of Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro and the politician who is spearheading a campaign to #takebackpng# – it was republished with just a small comment by the Honourable Governor  “It has come to this..” It was ‘shared’ by dozens of his Facebook friends.

I don’t know what the Governor means: It’s come to what?

But certainly if PNG is going to be taken back then perhaps overseas reports, such as this, should be exposed for what they are: highly inflammatory, bordering on libellous, focused on Australian interests and quite often wrong.

The author and his ‘sources’                   

Last November, in The Australian Media Watch Dog‘, Gerard Henderson named Mike Seccombe “Media fool of the week” for his front-page article on Cardinal Pell.

Henderson points out that “…”Smirk” Seccombe’s sources – for want of a better word,” are hardly impeccable and are most often nameless, such as “Cardinal Pell’s “most trenchant critics,” and “Pell’s anonymous critics” and even “some influential figures in the church” – and while Seccombe in his article about Papua New Guinea does name some of his sources, he fails to point out the ‘elephants in the room.’

Lawyer Tiffany Twivey
Lawyer Tiffany Twivey

However Papua New Guinean lawyer, Ms Tiffany Twivey who counts amongst her clients the Prime Minister and who was recently arrested by the aforementioned rogue police operating outside of the purview of Chief of Police in very controversial circumstances, has no such qualms writing:

That terrible article [Seccombe’s on PNG] – quotes Paul Flanagan, an Australian – who is failed former PNG treasury employee who has been writing “the sky is falling” economic forecasts for PNG since he was sacked. Then there are the team from development policy at ANU – where people go if they can’t get a job actually in development.

She goes on:

Lawrence Stephens formerly of PNGSDP, currently, Transparency International
Lawrence Stephens, Transparency Int.

As for Lawrence Stephens – well he was working for PNGSDP when the government took over OK Tedi – lost his job. Former catholic Secretary General for PNG who has made a career out of pointing out problems in PNG but never actually helps to solve them.

For my part, my particular fascination is with Seccombe’s source that couldn’t be named “for good reason” – but we’re told he is a former senior Australian government official – and as such I can’t imagine why he needs to hide his identity – only people with something to lose need to do that – and maybe that’s the nail hit squarely on the head, especially when we read later:

You have to be careful about putting your name to criticism these days if you ever hope to get back into PNG. Hence the reluctance of our old hand, quoted above.

Now I understand.  Is this “old hand” hoping to get a lucrative government job in PNG to cushion his retirement? The government’s policy of dispensing with overseas ‘consultants’ would not have suited many with such plans and they’d be understandably bitter.

Seccombe, even in quoting Dr Ron May (emeritus fellow to the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at ANU), only gives some basic widely known and understood context – handy for an ignorant Australian audience but unnecessary for a Papua New Guinean one.

And that’s the crux: Australian’s are Seccombe’s audience. It’s written from their point of view and with their best interests in mind and with Australians giving their ‘expert’ opinions on Papua New Guinea to other Australians.

So why is a PNG audience on the social media, who describe themselves as ‘elite’, taking so much notice?

Every Australian article that I read about Papua New Guinea recycles the same old ‘experts’ who carry the same old trite views. Invariably they are Australians who have had lucrative careers as ‘consultants’ to Papua New Guinea and are clearly missing the ‘good old days’ where Papua New Guinea was more easily exploited and are alarmed at the rapidly changing landscape.

It’s becoming a habit.

It was just in January, this year that I wrote about the article by Bill Standish (also associated with the Development Policy Centre – about which Ms Twivey is so scathing) making the same observations about its useful contribution to Papua New Guinea (as opposed to Australian interests)

Standish makes many of the same assumptions that Seccombe does, especially about Task Force Sweep.

Sam Koim - has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he'd rather avoid.
Sam Koim – has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he’d rather avoid.

While Standish talks of “several” convictions of the agency, Seccombe talks of their “40 high-profile arrests.” Nowhere in either article could be found the figures that illustrate the abysmal failure of the agency:

In the figures that Sam Koim (ITFS Chainman) provided the PNG public recently he claimed to have registered 350 cases – 93 that were ITFS initiated of which 12 were successful.
Those figures neither take into consideration that the conviction of MP Francis Potape (one of the only two major convictions of ITFS – the other being MP Paul Tiensten – twice) was successfully overturned on appeal nor that some have mooted that this may be the fate of other convictions.
For now, it stands at 11 out of 93, or 11.83% success rate! Based on the cases registered (350), the success rate comes out at 3.1%. Indeed, a full 50% of ITFS cases have not made it past committal. (My emphasis)

To support their shaky thesis they have also needed to overlook the fact that Koim is embroiled in his own allegations with a charge of Contempt of Court dogging him along with the question of who is funding him.  When this question can be answered then Koim may be further discredited. Another elephant in the room ignored.

Lying can be as successfully achieved by omission as by commission.

PNG Courts

Just for good measure, the anonymous “old hand” and Professor Stephen Howes (yes, another source from that Development Policy Centre) – are in agreement that the court system in PNG is probably the last bastion of democracy and the only PNG government institution that can be trusted to function effectively.

Justice Terry Higgins
Justice Terry Higgins

This notwithstanding, Howes does mention a couple of appointees (though not by name) who seem to have been corrupted but is eager to point out that it isn’t the ‘white’ judge, Justice Terry Higgins, who was a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the ACT. No it wouldn’t be the Australian, would it?

While I have also not seen any evidence that Justice Higgins is anything but impeccable and ditto other ‘non-white’ Papua New Guinean judges, nevertheless, in my close observations of the courts lately, I have seen some extraordinarily illogical decisions handed down by some and have remarked on them
See http://www.pngecho.com/2016/04/26/political-shenanigans-in-png-could-the-chief-justice-be-involved/ http://www.pngecho.com/2016/04/19/is-the-judiciary-overstepping-its-jurisdiction-the-damaru-case/   http://www.pngecho.com/2016/03/30/the-png-judiciary-the-power-and-the-glory-part-two/ http://www.pngecho.com/2016/03/29/the-reformation-of-the-court-system-in-papua-new-guinea/

Yet Seccombe tells us:

Others spoken to for this story say likewise: the government might be crook but not the courts.

Another of Seccombe’s immpeccable sources: “Others spoken to.”

With all this in mind, does this give Seccombe the qualification to gratuitously call the government of Papua New Guinea variably, corrupt, crook and greedy?

My advice, #takebackpng# – start listening to people who are talking to you – not those talking to the vested interests (that aren’t yours).

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Is payback the only game in town? Votes of No Confidence

By PNG Echo.

A vote of No Confidence
A vote of No Confidence

Unless it is sure that a Vote Of No Confidence (VONC) will be successful, I doubt that any one MP, with the exception of those already on the opposition and middle benches, will vote for it – and numbers there are miniscule – not nearly enough for a successful outcome.

Voting against a government that you are a part of displays disloyalty and NO party/coalition ANYWHERE will put up with vipers in their ranks – and rightly so.

A ruling party needs to be able to count on the loyalty of its members or get rid of them. How can a government be effective if they are at constant risk of getting a knife in their back, wielded by someone from their own ranks?

Don Polye - Out on his arse
Don Polye – Out on his arse

Polye found this out, to his detriment.  There is no room for Mavericks in a ruling party/coalition trying to form policy.

Polye lost out big time.  He lost his Ministerial portfolio, his membership of the ruling coalition and also the loyalty of his party who chose to let him go his merry way, without them.

So, if there are plots within O’Neill’s own party/coalition – and that’s probably just idle speculation – they had better be VERY sure of their success or they may find themselves in competition with Polye for the Opposition Leader’s role.

This is the reality of the political situation – and it doesn’t differ elsewhere. 

Australia for instance: Those who backed Abbott are now relegated to ‘no man’s land.’ You want to play power politics, you need to understand the rules of the game. Wishing and hoping is not reality. (Note to Sam Basil).

Juffa, free to swing whatever way he pleases - nothing to lose from the middle benchs
Juffa, free to swing whatever way he pleases – nothing to lose from the middle benches

Gary Juffa is right when he pointed out that it will take a lot of money to effect a VONC in this particular political context.

Some day that may change. That day’s not here.

Besides, I shudder to think of those who’d put their hand up to replace the current PM.

Instead of constantly trying to wrest power it would be more useful if everyone helped the mandated government to govern – there are democratic mechanisms, why aren’t they used, or used more effectively?

Is payback the only game in town?

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It’s vote-of-no-confidence time again.

By PNG Echo.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill - unlikely to be rolled
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill – unlikely to be rolled

Papua New Guinea is, once again, finding itself looking through one of those windows of opportunity whereby the government can be defeated and removed on the floor of parliament by a vote of no confidence.

This window is smaller this year because of legislation that increased the grace period from 18 to 30 months. It will be back to normal next year, the legislation having been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

But why is it expected that because it could happen that it should?

What’s more, why do people expect an attempted vote of no confidence as a matter of course?  And do people really consider that the politicians most desirous of wresting power would be a suitable replacement or have the wherewithal to effect the overthrow of the government anyway? Continue reading It’s vote-of-no-confidence time again.

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West Papua: Australia’s backyard ‘genocide’ continues

By Hilda Wayne

West Papua 1In a village in West Papua, a young Benny Wenda watched as Indonesian military forced his Melanesian aunties to wash themselves by the river ‘ to clean themselves up’ before they were raped. One of Benny’s aunts had her baby ripped from her arms and thrown to the ground before she, the mother, was also raped. Both baby and mother sustained fatal injuries. They died.

Severe internal injuries were what eventually killed the West Papuan father of Wiwince Pigome, sustained many years before at the hands of the Indonesian military.

Wiwince’s family were from Wamena and her father, a school headmaster, had become a statistic of the documented violence against West Papuans in the aftermath of a general election.  The year was 1977.

When he died, Wiwince’s was just 11 years old.

Stories of how women’s breasts were cut off from their chests leaving them to bleed to death, or of West Papuans being forced to have sex with their husbands in public or raped by the Indonesian military while their husbands were forced to watch, were told, in hushed tones in the Pigome home. These, Wiwince said, were ‘just stories’ that were not permitted to be mentioned in public on threat of severe repercussions by the Indonesian authorities.

And the violence continues –  so far, close to half a million people of West Papua have died at the hands of Indonesia’s repressive regime.

Continue reading West Papua: Australia’s backyard ‘genocide’ continues

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